Construction began in June on the Barrington Welcome Playground, the first Americans with Disabilities Act-accessible school playground in the Upper Arlington School District.
Barrington Elementary School is home to children with disabilities in kindergarten through second grade from all areas of Upper Arlington. The current playground, built in 1989, does not accommodate the needs of all the students there.
“Given the age and amount of money it would take to repair, we decided it would be better to replace the playground and add the ADA component,” says Aimee White, co-chairwoman of the playground committee at Barrington.
White has been heading up the effort to construct the playground with the playground committee of the Barrington Parent Teacher Organization. White has two children in wheelchairs who have never played on a playground.
“My reward will be getting to see my children get to play together on the playground with their siblings and the other children in the community,” says White.
Playground equipment includes an AeroGlider, a sensory motion product that promotes inclusive play; slides; rubber matting; chair swings and sensory panels. A Cozy Cocoon, specifically designed for children with autism spectrum disorders, and eight climbers, two of which will be ADA-accessible, are also in the plans.
“The AeroGlider and Cozy Cocoon will be game changers, allowing students of all ages and abilities to play together,” says Jason Fine, Barrington principal.
Fine is also excited about the rubber matting, which will give children in wheelchairs access to the playground. The current playground surrounded by mulch does not allow wheelchair access.
Local organizations have donated just under $200,000 to make the construction of the playground possible. Among the donors are the Barrington PTO and families, Upper Arlington community members, the Upper Arlington Rotary Foundation and Upper Arlington Community Foundation.
Upper Arlington Rotary and the Upper Arlington Education Foundation made contributions of $5,000 each and the Upper Arlington Community Foundation donated $2,500. Northwest Kiwanis contributed $25,000.
“Our focus at Northwest Kiwanis is helping the children of the world, and we couldn’t think of a better way of doing that than funding this program,” says Lee Spitzer, the organization’s president.
The playground committee reached its goal of $150,000 within two months.
“I was floored by how fast we were able to reach our goal,” says Fine.
Leadership UA, the Upper Arlington Fire Division, the city of Upper Arlington and Upper Arlington City Schools agreed to help build to playground in an effort to keep down installation costs. Construction began June 25 with the help of more than 150 volunteers.
Local builders have also donated their time and resources for the project. Among them is Bill Anderson of Anderson Concrete, who has donated concrete for the playground, and the Daimler Group, which provided a project manager to oversee construction.
Construction is projected to be complete by mid-July, and there will be a ribbon cutting ceremony when the students return in August.
“We are incredibly excited, not only for our Barrington students, but also for the community of Upper Arlington,” says Fine.
“We stress the importance of community at Barrington and feel that our new Welcome Playground will be another way to build relationships and foster friendships among our entire student body and the community at large.”
Hayley Ross is a contributing writer. Feedback welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.